THE recent devaluation of the South African rand against the United States dollar has worsened the economic woes of already suffering Bulawayo residents.
BY Ngoni Chanakira
Most business in the City of Kings is conducted in the South African rand, although the US dollar and the Botswana pula are also acceptable means of exchange.
The problem is that recently, businesses have been reluctant to accept the South African rand because of its phenomenal loss of value on the international market.
Shopping in Bulawayo has become a nightmare as prices of goods have shot up due to the falling rand.
A banana that used to cost R1 is now selling for $0,10, 10 cent bond coin or R1,50.
At most beerhalls in high-density suburbs, the price of a litre of opaque beer has gone up from R4 to R4,40. The same beer was going for R4 before the rand fell last week.
“I no longer accept rands,” said a vendor this week. “What can you do with R1 these days?”
Meanwhile, commuters are now paying R7 for a trip that used to cost R5.
“We prefer bond coins which are more valuable to us,” said a commuter omnibus operator. “We never used to accept bond coins, but we now prefer them from the rand. The economy here in Bulawayo is very bad right now and government needs to do something for the people of Matabeleland.”
Clive Moyo — a soccer fan — said the fall of the rand had affected gatetakings at football matches because people were now paying about R30 to watch a match when only last week they paid R28. It costs $2 for a rest of ground seat at Luveve Stadium and about $3 or R32 at Barbourfields, the home ground of Highlanders Football Club, which has the biggest following in Bulawayo.
“Gone are the days when things were cheap here in Bulawayo. Life is getting more and more difficult,” Moyo said.
However, the new MP for Luveve, Cowdray Park and Gwabalanda highdensity suburbs, Ntandoyenkosi Mlilo
recently promised that the Zanu PF government would help Bulawayo residents through the economic malaise they were facing.
Mlilo took over from Reggie Moyo, who was recalled from MDC-T after joining Tendai Biti’s party.
Mlilo told Zanu PF supporters that since the ruling party was now in power in Bulawayo, things would change.
“We have had about 15 years of MDC-T rule and nothing happened in Bulawayo,” he said at a meeting for his victory celebration.
“I will do everything to help all of you from all political parties and President Robert Mugabe is very happy that Bulawayo is now Zanu PF.”
However, citizens blame the Zanu PF-led government for misrule for the more than 35 years it has been in power.
“They [Zanu PF government] have done nothing, especially for Bulawayo,” said a vendor.
“What can they do now when things are even worse with the South African rand falling?”